Learn to lead and help your team(s) to be successful

Learn to lead with Jocko Willink former Navy SEAL

A few weeks ago, I have written an article called “Learn leadership from the Navy SEALs” to wrap up what I had learned from the book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

I liked the principles from this book so much that I have read the latest book from Jocko Willink : LEADERSHIP STRATEGY AND TACTICS : field manual released in january 2020. In this article, I will share with you what really marked me in this one.

Just like in Extreme Ownership, Jocko teaches us how to lead based on his Navy Seals and consultant experiences. The book is structured in 2 parts : Leadership strategies & Leadership tactics.

LEADERSHIP STRATEGIES

Those are the core principles that a leader should incarnate every day.

  • Detach : a good leader needs to detach mentally from the problem to be able to see more than anyone else.
  • Arrogance & humility : arrogant leaders are not followed by their subordinates because often they do not listen to them, they think any tasks are beyond them, they use only “I” pronoun and are not inclusive. At the contrary, humble ones are. They lead by example and always say what they do and do what they say so you can trust them. They use mostly the pronoun “We” and always act for the success of their men.
  • The power of relationships : As a leader you need to create strong relationships up and down the chain. At the end leading is all about human collaborating for a given purpose. To build good relationships you need to do it by building trust and being fully transparent. You need to do it even with bad leader up the chain, it can help your team better accomplish the missions.
  • Leaders are born or made ? The answer is both. In both cases the skills required to lead are : communication (simple and clear), confidence, read people and be able to acknowledge his/her strengths and weaknesses. This last point is very important :

GOOD LEADERS BUILD TEAMS THAT COUNTERBALANCES THEIR WEAKNESSES.

  • Leaders tell the truth : to build trust leaders need to always tell the truth and be transparent about everything, good and bad things as well. Leaders can kill any rumors just by using this very simple tool that is truth.
  • Stay humble & always learn : a leader must constantly improve and learn to face challenges that could arise in a near future. To do so they need to remain humble and acknowledge they always have space for improvement.
  • Earning influence and respect : respect people by allowing them to give their opinion and listen to them. Really listen to them.
  • Don’t overreact : people don’t like when leaders overreact, it means the leader is not really in control and might make irrational decisions. In this kind of moment, detach mentally from the situation, remain calm and stay in control by taking logical decisions according to the situation.
  • Self discipline : optimal discipline is not imposed by the leader it is chosen by the team. You can not order discipline, it is not effective at all. If they truly understand the why they will discipline themselves : self discipline.

If people have no input, they have no ownership, when they have no ownership, they have no personal stake in driving mission success.

  • Pride : it can be an aspirational influence that drives successful positive behavior. It helps people to care about what they do. You can inspire from army and sport to stimulate pride in your organizations : strong history, trophies, articles, awards, good reviews. When there is pride, team do not allow substandard performance : team polices itself.
  • Giving orders : as a leader you should not dictate orders, you should explain objectives : reveal the intents so people can elaborate plan to reach them. When plans are there, they will be really committed on it. Sometimes their plans will be different from yours and you need to accept it. Once again stay humble and let your own plan go.
  • Yes-men : never be surrounded by YES-MEN subordinates, prefer people who has : the confidence and the trust to say the truth to you, to challenge you. If you are not able to listen to this kind of people, check your ego.

At the end of the part 1 of the book, Jocko introduces an exception to a principle he called : “No Bad teams, only Bad leaders”. He explains that it is possible to have a good team that delivers outstanding performance with a really bad leader. By this he wants to remind us that :

  • Leadership is the most important factor in the success of any team and organization
  • Leadership may not always come from the structural leader, it can come inside the team themselves. That’s why leaders up the chain must really well know their people to detect this kind of stuff.

USING LEADERSHIP TO TEACH AND BUILD

The most powerful weapon of a leader is leadership itself

It was really a slap on my face when I read it : by giving people responsibility it will teach them to be better in a multitude of ways. So as a leader it can help you :

  • Fix a negative attitude : when a person is poor performing and has a negative attitude it’s often because this person has the feeling to waste his or her talent. So give this person some responsibility, he or she could completely change of behavior and impress you.
  • Teaching humility : the medicine for lack of confidence or overconfidence if the same put the individual in charge. To do so you must mitigate the risk : select missions that apply just enough pressure and carry low enough risk.
  • Building high-level team players : good leaders develop their teams by putting junior people in charge so they become more experienced & knowledgeable. It makes them better in a really short amount of time.

Leadership is a tool that can help you help your people so use it.

HOW TO SUCCEED AS A NEW LEADER

To succeed as a new leader Jocko gives us a lot of advice :

  • Be humble : it is an honor to be in a leadership position so remain humble. Your team is counting on you to make the right decisions.
  • Don’t act like you know everything : you don’t. The team knows that. Ask smart questions, show that you have interest for people and what they do.
  • Listen : ask for advice and heed it.
  • Treat people with respect : take care of your people and they will take care of you.
  • Take ownership : as the leader you must take ownership of failures and mistakes.
  • Pass credit : pass credit for success up and down the chain.
  • Work hard : as the leader you should be working harder than anyone else in the team. You must remain that no job is beneath you.
  • Have integrity : do what you say; say what you do. Do not lie up or down the chain of command.
  • Be balanced : extreme actions and opinions are usually not good.
  • Be decisive : when it is time to make a decision, make one.
  • Build relationships : it is your main goal as a leader. A team is a group of people who have relationships & trust one another.
  • Lastly, get the job done : that is the purpose of a leader — lead a team in accomplishing a mission.

LEADERSHIP SELF-ASSESSMENT

If at this moment you lead 1 or multiple teams I propose you to :

  • Self evaluate yourself on the principles enunciated just before through the radar below
  • Ask your subordinates to evaluate you as well
  • Compare the results to find improvement areas. To do it put your ego away and reflect on what you will find.

“The leadership strategies and tactics in this book are to be used not so YOU can be successful; these strategies and tactics are to be used so THE TEAM can be successful” — Jocko WILLINK

I hope you enjoyed this article, if yes I strongly advice you to read the book ;-)

I am available for any comments or discussions on linkedin or twitter.